It is very possible that backup quarterback is one of the most underrated positions on an NFL roster.
While it doesn’t happen yearly, it is a scene that has played out several times throughout the course of NFL history. The starting QB goes down early in the season and the backup looks completely clueless as the season, quickly goes down the tubes.
The most recent, and perhaps obvious, example of this is the 2011 Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning is unable to play and, almost instantly, on the NFL’s most successful franchises since the year 2000 is struggling to win a game.
Now, there were definitely other factors that led to the Colts’ demise last season, but the decrease in offensive production was notable. Points scored, completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns, all down.
This may come as a shock to those who live in a land where Brett Favre started the bulk of his, NFL record, 321 consecutive games, but the Green Bay Packers are not immune from this potential scenario.
Aaron Rodgers, will, at some point is career, get hurt (again). It is unusual for even the best quarterbacks to not miss a game here or there. So, now that Matt Flynn has received the pay day that he nicely earned for himself in two regular season starts, what happens in the god-forsaken scenario that A-Rod goes down?
Surely the Packers have invested too much time, energy, and more importantly, money to simply crumble under difficult circumstances.
Enter Graham Harrell.
Ready or not, his time has come. 2012 will likely mark the season where Harrell becomes one of the most valuable, yet under-appreciated players on the roster.
He put up video game-type numbers in his senior season at Texas Tech. He threw for 1511 yards, 45 touchdowns and only nine interceptions and finished fourth in the Heisman voting because of it.
The bulk of his NFL career has been spent on the Packers’ practice squad and he is yet to take a meaningful snap.
For whatever it’s worth, which probably isn’t a whole lot, his preseason numbers are trending upward. In 2012 Harrell was a combined 16-32 with 166 yards. Last preseason he was 33-57 passing with a pair of touchdowns and one interception. He also led a circus comeback in a 24-21 win over the Colts.
Harrell’s development as a player and as a leader will be, or at the very least ought to be, one of the most important stories of training camp. The coaching staff and the fan base will have an opportunity to assess just how much the young man has picked up on in his time as a practice squad quarterback.
He may not be the reason the Packers attain redemption for a 15-1 season that ended far too early, but Harrell will play a role in the overall success of the team.